Help for street kids

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By Godofredo M. Roperos

Politics also

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

ONE of the striking things that has immediately attracted public attention to the then new Cebu City administration in the late eighties was the apolitical effort of the wife of the new mayor.

It was a politically unattractive effort of the city’s first lady to do something about the city’s street children that abounded then at the downtown area, along Colon, Magallanes and Legaspi streets and at the vicinity of the Carbon market.

They were a horde of unkempt, almost unclothed, unhealthy, and generally unshod children who were just a little better than the four-legged young of the beasts in the hills beyond the city, except that those in the city’s downtown streets were two-
legged and not grass-eaters.


Suddenly out of nowhere came the rather unheralded emergence of a so-called center for street children in the Parian area, an ancient place known for its being historical.

Truth to tell, except for the Cathedral and the Santo Niño church, which was not yet a Basilica, Parian was initially hardly known to the provincial Cebuano. Talk of the Parian only emerged when they returned to their distant abode in the towns.

The other day, Parian came back to mind when the threat of street kids losing their “home” took centerstage, tied up with the originator of the Parian Drop-in Center.

However, those who have long resided in the city can no more evade coming to terms with the politics of the place than he or she can elude thinking of the city’s mayoral sidekick, the city’s First Lady who is said to be a better politician than the then city mayor himself.

I recall that the first occasion I met her was when I returned home from Singapore with some of the city’s newsmen. I was writing a column then for the Morning Times.

A few days after our return, I received a call from an aide of Tomas Osmeña, the would-be mayoralty candidate of the city who had just recently returned to Cebu from the United States. Since he was a close friend of then senator Raul Manglapus who was Christian Democrat in his politics, and one of the sponsors in my wedding some years back in Liloan, I obliged.

Mrs. Margot Osmena prepared the native lunch and also served it. She was a very gracious host, and I was not surprised to hear later on that she was also a very warm and winning politician, even better than her husband.

Thus, the emergence of the shelter for street children in Parian when her husband became city mayor did not surprise me at all, especially since I learned that she is also scion of a very political family in southern Luzon.

It would, indeed, be a very unfortunate event in our program to help and uplift the lot of our street children. They are, more than anything else in our social condition right now, most in need of help.

I would like to add my voice to the appeal to the United Nations International Children’s Fund (Unicef) for it to please include the Cebu street children in its list of beneficiaries. They also deserve help as much as those in calamity-stricken areas.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 08, 2014.


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